Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.
This week we were lucky enough to catch multiple spy photos of the next-generation 2015 Ford Mustang out testing. First we caught this prototype, which uses the loose-fitting body panels from a 2013 Mustang GT as a disguise. Despite the efforts of Ford’s best, our spy shooter noticed the panel gaps, widened roof channels, and other giveaways proving this Mustang was really a chopped-together mule for the next generation of Ford’s pony car. Under the hood we can expect the 5.0-liter V-8 to continue, and a new 2.3- or 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder should also join the ranks. It’s unknown whether the car’s 3.7-liter V-6 will remain on the order sheet.
Our spy shooter got another look at the 2015 Ford Mustang prototype and managed to photograph the rear suspension. As was long rumored, the aging live-axle setup has been replaced with an independent suspension layout. Expected to be a version of Ford’s Control Blade suspension, the new independent arrangement will be one of the key differentiators between the current and next-generation Mustang. Expect the 2015 Ford Mustang to debut in 2014 — possibly at the New York auto show, which would mark the 50th anniversary of the car’s introduction.
How much difference do two letters make? In the case of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG supercar, plenty. For the 2013 model year, the German powerhouse has been renamed the SLS AMG GT, a christening that represents a long list of upgrades and changes. First, the 6.3-liter V-8 gains 20 hp for a total of 583 hp, though torque remains at 479 lb-ft. Mercedes says that drops the car’s 0-to-60-mph time by one tenth of a second to 3.6 seconds. The optional adaptive suspension also has been revised for better handling. On top of that, the 2013 SLS AMG GT gets darker headlights, red-painted brake calipers, gloss-black mirror covers, and new Alcantara coverings for the interior.
Following a refresh of the 2013 F-Series Super Duty, Ford has revealed several changes for the 2013 F-150 pickup truck. As on the Super Duty, the F-150 benefits from revised grilles, updated interior components, and the addition of Ford Sync and MyFord Touch. The most noticeable visual change concerns new grille designs for XLT and Lariat models of the F-150. The former now wears two horizontal bars, with chrome brackets at either end. The Lariat receives three chrome bars that span the width of the truck’s grille. Sync voice recognition is standard on F-150 XLT models and higher. It comes with a 4.2-inch LCD screen in the center stack that can display information about the audio and climate control systems. The F-150 also gains a 4.2-inch LCD screen in the instrument cluster, which can be configured to show trip information, towing or off-road settings, or fuel economy.
Dany Bahar has been ousted from his position as CEO of Lotus. Bahar was forced out by the board of Group Lotus after the company’s new Malaysian owner, DRB-Hicom, raised concerns about misappropriation of company funds. Bahar joined Lotus in 2009 after being let go from Ferrari. Lotus already has named industry veteran Aslam Farikullah as its new CEO, and we’re told the takeover will happen immediately.
We may be one step closer to a high-performance Volvo model, as the automaker’s longtime racing partner Polestar has teased a photo of a modified S60 sedan. The Volvo S60 Polestar appears to be built on the basis of the existing S60 R-Design, and we’re told it might be pushed into limited production. The R-Design model already uses a software tune from Polestar to bump its turbocharged inline-six engine from 300 hp to 325 hp. “Whether there will be more cars built is an open question. First of all we want to get feedback on this first prototype,” Polestar marketing director Hans Bååth said in a prepared release.
Ready for a faster version of the funky Hyundai Veloster? The company this week announced pricing for the 2013 Veloster Turbo, an upgraded model that promises improved performance over the base model of the unusually designed hatchback. The 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo will start from $22,725 (including a $775 destination charge), and goes on sale this summer. That price nets buyers a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four engine with 201 hp and 195 lb-ft, as well as firmer suspension and stronger brakes than regular version of the Veloster. Upgrades include the Ultimate Options package, which bundles navigation, a backup camera, and a sunroof for $2000; a six-speed automatic transmission for $1000; and unique matte-gray paint for $1000.
The Honda Fit EV received the highest-ever energy efficiency rating from the EPA this week: 118 MPGe. The rating, which is a measure designed to help compare the efficiency of electric cars to gasoline cars, bests the Mitsubishi i-MiEV’s score of 112 MPGe. The 2013 Honda Fit EV uses a 123-hp electric motor with power stored in a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The EPA also rated the Fit at a battery range of 82 miles per charge — beating the Nissan Leaf (73 miles/99 MPGe) and the Ford Focus EV (76 miles/105 MPGe).
Speaking of electric-car ratings, the 2013 Chevrolet Volt receives slightly improved energy ratings. For the new model year, Chevrolet tweaked battery chemistry and computer programming to give the Volt’s battery pack a great energy capacity. As a result, the EPA rates the 2013 car at an all-electric range of 38 miles, up from 35 miles before. The Volt’s energy-efficiency rating likewise climbs from 94 MPGe to 98 MPGe. The 2013 Volt will go into production for the 2013 model year in July, with the 2013 cars available at dealerships starting in late August.
The new 2012 Honda CR-V isn’t much different from the old one, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The compact crossover has long been the segment leader, and the latest iteration should continue its popularity thanks to a spacious, practical, and comfortable interior. The design may look a bit dowdy, and the driving experience may be relaxed, but at least Honda managed to coax more fuel economy out of the CR-V for the new model year. Though the Honda CR-V isn’t flashy or exciting, it is a well-executed entry in its segment that should have no problem attracting ever more buyers.